UNODC South Eastern Europe on Prison Reform


The countries/territories in the region have undertaken a number of measures to improve the rule of law and integrity in the criminal justice systems. Nevertheless, the countries/territories have identified particular needs for regional cooperation in the area of anti-corruption, linking law enforcement with justice and prison reform. Prison reform is an issue of common interest to the region and there is a common understanding that the ongoing process of modernizing prison facilities needs to be accompanied by an improvement of the prison management system.

Overcrowding and inadequate living conditions, absence of harmonized legislative frameworks, fragmented prison management systems, lack of implementation of alternative measures, lack of correctional/detention facilities for vulnerable groups and excessive use of force within the custodial settings remain to be addressed in the region.

The prison management systems need to be brought up to date with the international standards with a particular focus on ensuring that the human rights of the prisoners are being respected and that suitable conditions for prisoner reintegration are established. Infrastructural programmes need to be encouraged in order to ensure that vulnerable groups are detained separately. The establishment of mechanisms for the prevention of ill-treatments in prisons and the exchange of experience in this respect has to be promoted. There is also a need for regional exchange of information concerning the implementation of alternative measures, the rehabilitation and re-socialization of prisoners (particularly vulnerable groups), as well as regarding adequate security surveillance mechanisms for high security prisoners.


In the framework of the Regional Programme, the following activities are planned:


  • Developing harmonized guidelines on the management of prison based on relevant international standards and norms;
  • Developing regional guidelines on how to amend the legislation and on how to introduce and effectively implement alternative measures to imprisonment;
  • Strengthening the capacity of prison management and administration to meet UN and EU standards required by developing specific training curricula and delivering related training to targeted prison staff on management and administration, including training for specific staff on women and children in prisons, and other prisoners with special needs;
  • Promoting the establishment and related implementation of community sanctions and cooperation between the community and correctional services